"The Legislature approved a budget late Friday in a final burst of chaos as the Supreme Court rejected a map of Senate districts and maverick senators killed a controversial education bill. In a 15-hour day, lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Scott the $70 billion budget that creates a 12th state university in Lakeland, closes six prisons and eliminates another 4,400 jobs, nearly 4 percent of the state's work force." "Chaotic day wraps up session". See also "", "", "Florida Supreme Court throws out Senate redistricting plan" and "Legislature passes $70 billion budget; due back Wednesday to redo Senate redistricting maps".
Redistricting decision "a comeuppance for Sen. Don Gaetz"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The Florida Supreme Court on Friday followed the will of the voters who demanded more reasonably drawn legislative districts."
The court's landmark redistricting opinion thoughtfully defined the constitutional amendment approved in 2010 and invalidated new state Senate districts for clearly failing to meet those requirements. This is a victory for Floridians who want fair elections and a sound defeat for drawing maps that rig the outcomes and protect incumbents."The majority opinion confirms the significance of Amendment 5 (and an identical Amendment 6 for congressional redistricting, which was not considered Friday) in reshaping the state's political landscape. "
Amendment 5 requires that legislative districts not be drawn to favor or disfavor incumbents or political parties. They should be compact and follow political and geographic boundaries where possible, and they cannot reduce the ability of minorities to elect the candidates of their choice."Victory to preserve voters' will". See also "Florida Supreme Court throws out Senate redistricting plan" and "Ready for special session? Florida Supreme Court rejects Senate redistricting plan".
The court ruled that the new House districts meet those requirements and generally praised the House's approach. That is a particular credit to Rep. Will Weatherford, the Wesley Chapel Republican who oversaw redistricting and is incoming House speaker.
But the court was critical of the Senate's approach, which did not consider political or election performance statistics in drawing new districts. Eight of 40 Senate districts were ruled invalid for protecting incumbents, lack of compactness and other issues. The court also faulted the renumbering of the districts to favor incumbents.
The opinion is a comeuppance for Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who is the incoming Senate president. Gaetz oversaw the drawing of the Senate map, and his sprawling Panhandle district was one of those invalidated by the court.
Scott's promise of ALF reform rings hollow
"After years of reports of rampant abuse in Florida's assisted living facilities, Gov. Rick Scott and top lawmakers promised to create the most significant reforms in a generation to better protect thousands of frail seniors and mentally ill residents. But after a dramatic week of infighting and gamesmanship, House and Senate leaders on Friday couldn't agree on major safeguards, delivering a crushing blow to elder advocates who had long been pleading for changes."
The failed effort follows months of reports in the Miami Herald of people dying in ALFs — including residents beaten, starved and injected with lethal doses of drugs — prompting a legislative panel and a Miami-Dade grand jury to push for changes in oversight by state regulators."Reform bill for assisted living facilities dies in House".
Hiaasen: "Rush-Muffin feels the heat"
Carl Hiaasen: "The Rush-Muffin feels the heat".
JD gets his
"The creation of Florida's 12th university has cleared its second-to-last hurdle, with both the House and Senate approving the move with nominal resistance. ... The move was a top priority of exiting Lake Wales Republican Sen. JD Alexander. It diverts from a USF Polytechnic independence plan already laid out by the Florida Board of Governors, which is tasked with overseeing the state university system." "Florida is one step closer to getting a 12th university".
After hosing Dems all session, Weatherford wants to shake hands
"A last appeal for bipartisan support from Speaker-designate Will Weatherford fell flat Friday night, as the House voted 80-37 in a partyline vote to approve the state's $70 billion budget for 2012-13."
Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel called for the minority party to join Republicans in approving the plan."All parties join hands? Not on Florida budget vote".
No dice. Rep. Scott Randolph of Orlando was among the Democrats who blistered the budget for cutting university spending, reducing hospital payments and doing nothing to lift motorist tax- and fee-hikes. "You are all taxing the middle class and you are taxing them out of existence," Randolph said.
Aren't they amazing
"Despite setbacks over early-in-the-session prison privatization efforts and, on the final day, with the failure in the Senate of parent triggers for charter schools and the state Supreme Court declaring that some newly drawn Senate districts are unconstitutional and will require a special session starting Wednesday, the state’s top elected officials deemed the session a success." "Rick Scott's Priorities Center Stage as Session Comes to a Close".
Jebbie takes it in the shorts
"The well-financed, politically savvy backers of the parent trigger bill thought it would be a sure thing."
Last week, a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans blocked an attempt to fast-track the bill to the Senate Floor. Later, a bipartisan group prevented the bill from being added to the calendar."Tense fight over school 'parent trigger' bill ends in its defeat". See also "Senate shoots down 'parent trigger' bill" and "Parent Trigger bill defeated in Florida Senate".
But with the clock winding down on the legislative session, Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, secured a last-minute hearing for the parent trigger proposal.
On Thursday night, the Senate questioned the proposal until 10 p.m. They came back for a debate and vote on Friday afternoon — the very last day of the legislative session. ...
But Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said she had received thousands of letters and phone calls, urging her to oppose the bill. Lynn slammed the California group pushing the proposal, saying its members were oblivious to the education reform already talking place in Florida.
Ultimately, the 12 Senate Democrats and eight maverick Republicans (Lynn, Charlie Dean, R-Inverness; Nancy Detert, R-Venice; Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland; Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey; Alan Hays, R-Umatilla; Dennis Jones, R-Seminole; and Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville) banded together to defeat the bill.
The vote represented a stinging loss for Senate leadership — and for Bush's education agenda.
Anti-Sharia nonsense flops in Senate
"After Easy House Passage, 'Anti-Sharia' Bill Dies in Senate".
PIP plan passes
"PIP reform plan passes as Florida Legislature adjourns". See also "Scott declares victory after Senate signs off on auto insurance fix", "Scott to Sign PIP Reform Law 'Very Soon'" and "After tense debate, PIP reform passes Florida Legislature".
Texas law firm gets Bondi's work
"Florida attorney general selects lawyers to help handle BP oil spill claims".
"Victory for progressive groups"
"Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos today committed to include 'a formal study reviewing the effectiveness of economy development incentives, tax credits, exemptions, and subsidies,' in the state’s economic incentives bill, which is now on its way to the governor’s desk. The announcement is a victory for progressive groups across the state." "Florida progressives win battle over transparency in financial incentives, tax breaks for businesses".
Another Scott fail
"Florida gave $750,000 tax deal to company that went bankrupt".
Random drug testing on Scott's desk
"Florida lawmakers approved a plan to allow random drug tests for state employees Friday, on a 26-14 Senate vote. Bill sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, said the bill was necessary to curb the problem of illegal drug use in Florida." "State worker drug testing law heads to governor". See also "Senate submits state worker drug test bill to Gov. Scott" and "Second attempt to randomly drug test state employees heads to Scott’s desk".
Developers snap their fingers
"Bill protecting Maronda, other subdivision developers from common-area defects passes state Senate".
"Adam Putnam's Renewable-Energy Bill Passes".
"Reorganization of the Florida Department of Health"
"After three years of trying, the Legislature on Friday passed a reorganization of the Florida Department of Health. The bill, HB 1263, was pared back significantly from what bill sponsor Rep Matt Hudson, R-Naples, asked for and does not sever the relationship between the state and the county health departments." "3rd time is charm for Hudson's health reorganization bill".
Gillibrand goes to Broward
"Broward Democrats are holding their big annual fundraising dinner Saturday, where they'll hear from U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York." "New York senator to address Broward Democrats".
"What used to be seen as a political minefield"
"Far from big-city liberal enclaves and South Florida communities known as havens for gays and lesbians, several local mayors have stepped into what used to be seen as a political minefield: support for gay marriage." "More South Florida mayors come out for gay marriage".